Volume III, Issue 4, Page 22
With John 'JC' Carollo

Whatever Happened to Nicknames?

eah, I’m old school. I got into NASCAR in its formative factory war years of the mid- ‘60s. Racing was VERY different back then and we could blow on unmercifully about that but we won’t – for now. We will tell ya that one of the differences was that some drivers had really cool nicknames. In fact, I can’t say I know ‘Tiny’ Lund’s given first name without having to hit the reference books – Dwayne or Duane, maybe? Glenn ‘Fireball’ Roberts got his name – the way I hear it – from his fastball pitchin’. They called Dale Earnhardt ‘Iron Head’ and later ‘The Intimidator.’ Terry ‘Iceman’ Labonte won two champ rings and ‘Ol D.W. - Darrell Waltrip - got tagged as ‘Jaws’ for running his mouth when he comes on the scene. ‘Smokey’ Yunick, Neil ‘Soapy’ Castles, Jimmy ‘Smut’ Means and others all have cool nicknames. On top of the NASCAR food chain, Richard Petty will always be The King. Shucks, even Kyle calls him that. Yep, NASCAR needs some nicknames again. Besides, the kids love ‘em!

NASCAR may already be helping. At the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Media Tour Hosted by Lowes Motor Speedway last January, NASCAR told us they want the drivers to be more individuals and to help that, NASCAR was gonna take each case of them talking out of school on a one-to-one basis. That boils down like peanuts to lettin’ ‘em say their piece but smacking ‘em on the beezer with a rolled up newspaper like an old hound dog when they go too far. How far is too far? Heh, heh... Why, that’d be up to NASCAR, of course. If drivers had nicknames, the regular press would be all over ‘em when they said something that made a great sound bite on the evening news. We’re talkin’ mainstream exposure with a capitol X!

Nicknames make folks into characters…and characters sell product. Other sports have characters. Even boring old drag racing has John Force and if he ain’t a real live character, I’ll turn in my pit pass. In case you ain’t noticed, NASCAR don’t have no characters these days. And I’m thinkin’ that’s a real shame. Now, I ain’t sayin’ we need a John McEnroe climbing outta his car during a race and razzing the flagman, but when you look around the garage today, there ain’t much going on with the nickname deal. About all we got is former Chevy driver and two-time champ, Tony ‘Smoke’ Stewart. I’m thinkin’ we need to bring nicknames back and he should be officially known as ‘Smoke’ Stewart.

So, with a little help from YOU, the readers, we’re gonna see if we can jumpstart this nickname thing for our Chevy boys and turn ‘em into real live characters, too. Heck, we might even give nicknames to those boys that drive those foreign cars, too. You know, the brands that begin with the letters F, D and T.

Let’s start with the Hendrick boys and Jeff Gordon. Early on, ‘Wonder Boy’ was his nickname cuz he was so good as a young gun. But Jeffy done growed outta that name. The non-racing press tried calling him ‘Flash’ Gordon and that lasted about as long as a hot dog wrapper on the front straightaway. Today, he’s a proud new father so we could go super trendy and call him ‘Baby Daddy.’ But that just might be way too hip for stodgy ‘ol NASCAR so I’m thinkin’ ‘Daddy-O’ Gordon. We’ve got two nicknames for his running buddy, Jimmie Johnson. He’s got a way of looking you straight in the eyes when talking to ya so nickname number one would be Jimmie ‘Deadeye’. If you wanna name him for his drivin,’ he likes to lay back and then come outta nowhere. For that, I’m thinkin’ we’ll call him, ‘Sleeper’ Johnson. The remaining Hendrick pilot is Casey Mears and I think we should give him one of those names that kinda goes with his last name. Let’s call him ‘Masher’ Mears. Do they still say ‘mash the gas pedal’?

Over at the Childress shop, Richard Childress already has his nickname of ‘RC.’ His boy, Kevin Harvick got one a while back with ‘Happy’ Harvick. If’n he needs a new one, let’s try ‘Pesky’ Harvick cuz he’s usually there being a pain and doggin’ somebody on the track. His running buddy, Jeff Burton, should wear a name that shows he can strike when the iron is hot. How ‘bout Jeff ‘The Assassin’ Burton. Yeah, that even sounds a little like Big Time Wrasslin’. The other guy at RCR is Clint Bowyer and he likes to chase people down so we’ll call him, ‘Bulldog’ Bowyer.

At the DEI shop, we got ourselves the lineup of Mark ‘Muscle” Martin, Paul ‘The Mangler’ Menard and Martin ‘The Brain’ Truex. That’s cuz Mark likes to work out, Menard is getting’ more aggressive and Truex is, well, one smart cookie for stickin’ around at DEI.

While we’re at it, here’s some obvious names for those poor unfortunate souls that don’t drive Chevys. Denny ‘The Hammer’ Hamlin, ‘Flyin’ Ryan Newman (we already know he hates that easy one), Kasey ‘Killer’ Kahne, Carl “Flipster’ Edwards and Greg ‘The Bif’ Biffle.

I guess that leaves only Dale Jr. left for a nickname. Well, I don’t see him getting away from Jr. for a long time. It’s kinda nice, really. We don’t have his Daddy around any more but we do have Jr. to remind us about all those days with ‘The Intimidator.’ Yeah, Jr.’s already got his nickname. And it’s cool cuz his daddy give it to him…

Now if you’re thinkin’ you got better nicknames for our Chevy boys, email us here at MAXCHEVY. But I’ll tell you right now,
we’re only gonna use the ones that are family-safe. That means I won’t be able to use any of those colorful nicknames you
already done give me!